Have you seen Big John Bates lately?


The group’s tour ends at the Media Club in Vancouver on New Year’s Eve. BJB is now considered “one of the leading bands in the Americana Noir movement” with “a live show that’s still second to none.”

It’s Bates 50th show on the “From the Bestiary to the Leathering Room” tour and they’re bringing a murderous set to finish it off; Year of the Wolf will stomp out killer blues-country-rock while Alchemy Chamber weaves their dark and chilling spells. Plus there will be Tassel Twirling throughout the night and DJ Brandy Bones – this one-of-a-kind atmosphere won’t be matched!

There were only 180 tickets released so get yours fast!
Tickets Only $15

The Missoulian Spotlight Nov 2015

Friday the 13th is an appropriate date for an “Americana noir” band to play its bassist and singer’s home state.

Big John Bates, a group named after its lead guitarist and singer, is co-led by Brandy Bones, who lived in Florence from age 11 to 19 and took private violin lessons during that time. She picked up the upright bass when she moved to Bellingham, Washington, and started playing with bands.

Bones joined the band in 2009, when her previous band opened for Bates. It was his bassist’s last tour with the group and they offered Bones the job. It came with a free trip to Europe on tour, so she learned 30 songs in a month and has been with them ever since.

She described her indoctrination as “sink or swim,” particularly at one of their first tour stops in Germany. “One of the first shows was for 10,000 people,” she said.


Their newest record is a home recording, British Columbia-style. “The whole album was written and recorded on a boat in Vancouver, B.C.,” she said. “From the Bestiary to the Leathering Room” was put out by the German label Rookie Records and distributed in the U.S. by Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles.

They describe their music as “Americana noir,” or “symphonic rock.” It fits in with the punk-roots scene of the Northwest, where punk, Americana and more get blended up. “I would say we’re a little more symphonic than that,” Bones said. She pointed more to Denver bands like 16 Horsepower or DeVotchKa, with its world influences. “We’re really strong in the roots, but it’s kind of more dark and dreary,” she said with a laugh.

Bones, one of the songwriters, singers and its bassist, draws more on post-rock for the arrangements, citing groups like Cult of Luna and Mono, or David Eugene Edwards. Bates, meanwhile, is a Cramps guy and a fan of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet.

It’s broad enough to include a faithful cover of Iggy Pop and Ricky Gardiner’s “The Passenger,” which augments the classic chord progression with some mandolin. Bones sings lead on the tune. The artwork was designed by Santiago Caruso, an Argentinian illustrator who worked on “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

She said they were “honored” he let them use his work, which is typically found on albums by death metal bands. (Appropriately enough, the painting is called “Nocturne II.”) With the addition of cello and arco bass, they can create a gothic chamber music atmosphere in the tunes’ darker corners, such as “Bitterroot.”

On the current tour, they’ve added a cellist, Justine Echo, which means Bones can focus on bass and vocals. “It makes it more full and visually it’s nice to look at,” she said. After all, how often do you get to see bowed cello and bowed bass on the stage of a rock venue?
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Who do you think we are?

I could start with punk rock’s first commandment “We don’t care” … but that wouldn’t be entirely true. We do. We see audiences enraptured by the performance but I can’t tell you that we have something special for you if I don’t know who you are. So I’m in a van on the second leg of a tour with nothing to do but think about you.

It’s been an ongoing transformation since Brandy and I sat down in 2011, recorded Headless Fowl with Tim and Todd then hit the road with Murder by Death. Over two albums and a few hundred shows the sound went from a post-rock’n’roll trio to symphonic rock’n’roll to Americana Noir with cello, arco bass, guitar, female vocals and percussion. I’ve heard that these days we deliver an experience closer to Nick Cave or Gogol Bordello than anything else.

I believe it because this band totally nails it live; during the Bestiary tours we’ve been playing the best shows of my life. Intense, enigmatic and invigorating is a combination that appeals to people seeking live entertainment no matter what sound you’re into. And we want to aim this beast at whoever is going to get the most out of it. So who are you? And where did you come from?

john at bigjohnbates dot com

Bestiary on Folkworld

A highly exciting and engaging ride through rock music old and new. I was already contemplating a rave review based on the fine female vocal work from bassist Brandy Bones, rocking guitars, and exciting rhythms when they sealed the deal on the fourth cut with a brilliant cover of ‘Black Soul Choir’ by one of my all time favorite bands, 16 Horsepower. But it still has many great moments thereafter. This one I’ll be playing a long time and it could be filed under folk-rock, with plenty of roots and enough mix of acoustic and electric excitement. Oh, and one more great cover of Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger’. Great music, totally fitting into the ‘Denver Sound’ even though this hails from Vancouver, Canada.

Folkworld Magazine © David Hintz


CD Baby is helping out Xmas with both International and Domestic USA shipping for only a penny! Shop at CDBaby between Nov 30 through Dec 4 for Big John Bates! The new album will be up there soon but until then you can get Battered Bones or Headless Fowl